The night was dark and had a biting chill. It was the first day of November 1981, specifically a Tuesday. On this night Minerva McGonagall could be found sitting on a garden wall on a plain Muggle street like any normal cat. She was completely lost in her thoughts, still trying to grasp the events of the last day. No one, not even the great Albus Dumbledore could have predicted what had happened.
The night before had caused both great joy and great sorrow. It both revived and devastated. While most were celebrating others were in mourning for despite the defeat of one of history's Darkest wizards their newfound peace came at a heavy price. Two of Hogwarts' most promising alumni had been cut down before their prime, leaving behind a one year old child.
If cats could cry she would have at that moment. She had taught James and Lily Potter for seven years and still couldn't believe that they were gone. They had been so full of life, and she had been close to them after their graduation. Sure it was only a rumor so far, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.
Minerva knew that there was another person who would be even more touched by the loss than she. Her cousin Jessica Fletcher had been Lily's mentor and friend throughout her Hogwarts career. Lily had even made her the godmother of her son Harry. Jessica loved her and Harry like they were her own children because she had never had any of her own. And now she was losing both of them in one day.
A quiet crack behind her signaled the arrival of another person. She didn't dare to move for fear that it was a stray Death Eater. She breathed out a sigh of relief as balls of light flew past her and she realized that it was her purple-robed husband, Albus and his Deluminator. The street was plunged into darkness and before she had the chance to transform his soft voice rang out from behind her.
"Fancy seeing you here, Minerva."
She transformed back into her normal form in her emerald robes, smiled grimly at him and cut right to the chase.
"Is it true what they're saying Albus? Lily and James…? Harry…?"
The older man simply bowed his head and her tears silently began to fall. Albus opened his arms and his trembling wife walked into his embrace. He could feel her shaking accompanied by the skin of her face being nearly frozen.
"Minerva, you're freezing. I'm glad that I remembered a spare cloak," he remarked as he pulled the shrunken cloak out of his pocket. With a tap of his wand he had enlarged the dark green fabric and fastened it around her shoulders, all without letting go of her. She nodded to him in thanks as she dried the tears from her face with a white handkerchief she had brought with her and stepped away from him.
"That poor, sweet child," she murmured. Suddenly her brow furrowed in confusion. "Where is he Albus?"
"Rubeus is bringing him," he replied as he checked his watch. "He's late."
She swallowed back her thoughts on how Rubeus Hagrid could be gentle with an infant and decided to ask a far more burning question.
"Where is he to go Albus? Where is Harry going to be raised?"
"Here, by his mother's sister. She is the only blood relation he has left."
Her eyes widened in horror.
"No. This is the worst possible place for him to live. You remember how Petunia treated her sister after she got her letter, and after she married James. Their son is an absolute menace as well. I've watched them all day and he can't be left in such conditions."
She was about to go into a full blown tirade when a low rumble began to sound. As the large, loud, and airborne vehicle came to a crashing landing she almost began banging her head on the brick wall of Number Four Privet Drive out of sheer exasperation. She looked at her husband incredulously.
"Of all the ways for the child to get here, you picked the most conspicuous and noticeable mode of transportation imaginable?"
"I actually had no part in that Minerva," Albus answered as he looked at the machine in wonder.
Hagrid, who hadn't been paying attention up to this point, grinned as he passed Minerva the baby.
"Sleepy little one he is. Fell asleep somewhere over Bristol."
"Where did you get the motorcycle Hagrid?" Albus asked quietly so as not to wake Harry.
"Sirius Black lent it to me. That reminds me, I should be getting it back to him."
After several minutes of trying to keep Hagrid and his "goodbye" from waking the Muggles on the street he finally left. As Minerva and Albus watched the motorcycle disappear into the sky a sharp crack sounded at the end of the street. The couple on the Dursley's front walk turned to toward the figure advancing in their direction. In seconds their wands were in their hands and pointed in the new person's direction. The figure let out a rather feminine huff as she raised her lit wand up to her face. A pair of clear, blue eyes looked out from an exasperated and grieving face.
"Jessica," Minerva said in relief as she lowered her wand. "I'm so sorry."
The other professor was wearing Muggle clothes, a pair of slacks, tennis shoes, and a jacket to fight the cold. She put her wand back up her sleeve and reached out for Harry. Minerva gently put the boy in his godmother's arms and watched the woman's face break into a fond smile.
"Thank you Minerva," she replied sadly. "I just wish that people weren't celebrating the deaths of those poor children."
"What are you doing here Jessica?" Albus asked.
"Isn't it obvious? I am here to retrieve my godson. His parents are dead, which leaves him in my care," the woman responded evenly as she protectively cradled the small baby. She smiled lovingly at the child and gently brushed a lock of hair from his forehead. "I'm the only level head he has left."
"He can't stay with you Jess. I forbid it," he replied with a trace of hostility. "Voldemort is not gone completely. He will only ever be safe with a blood relative."
"Well Voldemort can go bugger himself for all I care," she replied in a sing-song voice so as not to wake Harry.
Minerva snorted inelegantly at her cousin's profanity, but Albus wasn't so amused.
"You want the best for him don't you? We both know that you can't provide for him. You are now a widow after all, and you haven't raised a child in years, let alone your own."
Jessica stiffened and he knew that he had struck a nerve. She was torn between looking lovingly at the sleeping bundle in her arms and glaring at her superior. She kept it up for a few moments before relenting, albeit reluctantly. She knew what the right choice was.
"Fine," she replied coldly. "Just for him, not you."
Albus nodded and pulled a letter out of the pocket of his cloak and set it on the step. He then gestured for Jessica to hand him the child. The woman took a step back with a dangerous glint in her eye.
"You can't be serious Albus."
Minerva looked at him equally incredulously.
"You plan to leave a small child on a doorstep in winter-like conditions? And explain to his relatives, who have never met him, that he is being foisted on them because of a madman slaughtering his parents, in a letter?"
When he said nothing in reply his wife turned in a huff to her cousin, hugged her and the child and went to the end of the street and disapparated. Jessica looked back at her cousin's husband.
"Go," Jessica croaked out.
"Go Albus." Her voice suddenly had a raw sound that could only be caused by stifled tears. "Leave me alone to say goodbye to my godson you coward."
"Don't you bloody dare Albus Dumbledore. If we weren't in a Muggle area and if I didn't love my cousin you would be in excruciating pain right now," she hissed. "There is nothing you could possibly say to make this better. Just leave. One of these days you'll push me too far."
He opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it. Instead he turned on his heel and retreated to the end of the street. He put the lights back on with the Deluminator before taking one last look at Number Four. All he could see in the dim light of the moon and the street lamps was Jessica and Harry. He had begun to fuss and she was soothing him. A small sound floated toward him from their direction.
"Oh my poor little babe, how much you've suffered. I'm here Harry, stop your tears. You're safe from that monster now. Nothing will get to you when you're in my arms."
It was a scene that just looked so right that he had to swallow back the emotion building up in his throat. She was right, he was a coward. Before he could change his mind he too disapparated and arrived at the gates of Hogwarts, just as Jessica rang the bell.
He had a hunch that he would be sleeping on the couch tonight and for several nights after. He wasn't quite looking forward to his wife's fury, so he hadn't apparated straight into the castle. At least the long walk would give them time to cool down in her case, and to prepare in his.
Petunia Dursley was having the best sleep she had been able to have in the past year and a half. That was one of the reasons why she was so reluctant to get out of bed when the bell woke her at about midnight. At least Dudley hadn't woken.
Thank heaven for small blessings, she thought to herself as she pulled on her dressing gown and trudged down the stairs. She wasn't sure what she was expecting to see when she opened the door, but a woman holding a baby certainly wasn't it.
"I'm sorry ma'am, can I help you?" she asked rather impatiently.
"Petunia Evans? I'm sorry, Petunia Dursley?" the unfamiliar older woman asked.
"Yes. Can I do something for you?" she asked in slight shock. How could this woman, a stranger no less, know my maiden name?
"I apologize for intruding at such a late hour, but may I come in? I must discuss a matter of grave importance with you."
"What is it?"
"Not something that can be discussed on the street, if you catch my meaning," the woman said pointedly. She raised an elegant eyebrow.
Petunia's blood instantly ran cold. She chanced a glance at the child in the woman's arms and nearly fainted at the sight of a shock of black hair. Without a word she moved out of the way so that the woman could enter.
"Please go into the livingroom and sit down. I have to wake my husband."
The stranger obliged and sat quietly while Petunia quickly crept upstairs. She slipped into her bedroom and gently shook her husband awake.
"Vernon, Vernon!" she whispered.
"What is it Petunia?" he muttered sleepily.
"There's someone downstairs who needs to speak with us."
He glanced at the clock.
"What could anyone bloody want at this hour?" he groaned.
"Vernon, I think it's about the Potters."
In less than a second he woke up completely. Without a word he went downstairs with his wife trailing behind him. He walked into the livingroom to get a good look at the stranger in his house. She was an older blonde with short, curly hair. She looked relatively normal aside from the evidence of tears all over her face, and sat daintily and properly on the sofa. She was also cradling a child wrapped in blankets in her arms. He sat in his chair and waited for his wife to perch on the arm of the chair before cutting to the chase.
"Who are you?"
"I am Jessica Fletcher. I take it you know about Petunia's sister and her abilities Mr. Dursley?"
"Oh, so you're one of the freaks then?" he asked bluntly.
The woman stiffened slightly.
"I will forget I heard that young man," she said indignantly. "Now I am the English professor at Hogwarts. I taught Lily Evans and her husband throughout their schooling and was very close to them."
Petunia brought a shaking hand to her mouth as the blood drained from her face. She had heard the past-tense so cleverly hidden in the statement.
"My god… she's gone isn't she?"
Jessica's expression grew grim.
"For the past year the Potter family has been in hiding from an exceedingly powerful Dark wizard known as Voldemort. They were some of his most avid opposers. I am sorry to say that last night both Lily and James Potter were murdered in their home in Godric's Hollow trying to protect their son. They were caught without their wands and had no chance. He tried to kill young Harry as well, but somehow the child defeated him."
Petunia's hand fell limp into her lap. She looked at the baby.
"That's Harry isn't it?" she asked faintly.
"Yes," Jessica replied. "He survived something that many more powerful wizards than he can not."
"May I see him?"
Jessica nodded and stood to hand the child to his aunt. As Petunia looked at the child Jessica handed the letter from Dumbledore to Vernon. He quickly scanned the message and put his head in his hands.
"Is this man insane?"
"Perhaps. If he had had his way he would have just left Harry on your front steps with that letter."
Vernon shook his head in disbelief while his wife looked at Jessica.
"Is there no one else who can take care of him?"
"I am his godmother, but I have been ordered to leave him here. You are to be his guardians."
She was met with silence.
"I trust that the letter offers enough explanation?"
Both of her companions nodded.
"Right then," Jessica said. She quickly pulled out a pen and pad of paper. She scribbled down her Cabot Cove address.
"If you need to reach me, write please. I would like to hear about him from time to time."
Petunia handed the baby to her husband and went to put the paper in the kitchen.
"I'll take my leave of you now," Jessica murmured. She turned to leave, but went back over to Harry. She bent and planted a gentle kiss on his forehead as he lay in Vernon's arms.
"Good luck Harry Potter," she whispered gently. Then she looked at Vernon.
"Take care of him. He will be a special boy."
With that she straightened and walked to the door. She opened it, and without looking back Jessica Fletcher disappeared into the crisp autumn night. At that very moment, witches and wizards across Great Britain and the world were raising their glasses collectively to one person.
"To Harry Potter… the Boy Who Lived."
The next morning it was Minerva who discovered her cousin's rooms in Hogwarts empty of her belongings. She left nothing behind but her letter of resignation. Minerva couldn't find it in herself to blame her. Nor could Albus or anyone else for that matter. Who could have known that in ten years time that she would once again cross over the threshold as a professor?
Hope you've enjoyed the prologue. Please leave feedback because I want to make this story the best it can be. All constructive criticism is welcomed.